I missed seeing Earl’s garden in June but I caught back up with him last weekend. It’s been a rough summer in Austin for all gardeners, including Earl, but in spite of the heat and drought, his garden looks great. Earl’s still getting a few tomatoes, his okra looks good, and cream and purple hull peas are off to a nice start.
One piece of advice Earl remembers from his dad (a farmer in North Carolina) is to take advantage of your work – if you don’t, you can work hard without much to show for it. He put this advice to good use with his tomatoes. I mentioned this in the last post, but in the photo below you can see the dam he builds around each plant using 3 bags of compost. He said it’s a bargain compared to the price of a few organic tomatoes from the store.
|Earl is demonstrating his watering method of filling the “reservoir” with his watering wand and letting the water seep through the compost taking the nutrients to the plant roots. In this way, he can hand water his garden in about 30 minutes, getting water exactly where he needs it. As his dad pointed out, a little work on the front end, makes things much easier later on.|
Trying to grow fall tomatoes in Austin can be a real challenge – Earl uses row cover that he attaches to his cage system with twist ties to keep the hot summer sun off of his tender young plants. With the sides open, it still allows plenty of air circulation.
Earl has a good crop of okra going with 1 plant marked for saving seed. He won’t harvest any fruit from this one for the table.
Earl is experimenting this year with 3 different mulches for his okra. One third of the row is mulched with 100% coffee grounds, one third with 100% compost, and one third with a 50-50 mix. So far, the plants look about the same, but he feels like the 50-50 mix provides the most benefit with the acid from the coffee grounds helping to extract nutrients from the compost. I’ll keep you posted on how the experiment pans out.
Several of his 4×4 square foot beds are filled with peas – some cream and some Mississippi Purple Hull. Being one of my favorite crops from my East Texas connections, I can’t wait to see how they turn out.
|Last but not least, Earl pointed out the horseshoe that he found on his property. From the pit marks and nails, he believes it’s from the 1800s. He has it positioned on his garden gate pouring luck on all that enter.|